Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
I am the good shepherd; I know My own and My own know Me, as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10: 14-15
Good morning Prayer Team!
We all know that Orthodox churches are adorned with icons, depictions of Christ and the saints, that create for us a holy and sacred space, filled with sacred images. They bring the church of heaven together with the church of earth. They give us windows into what Jesus looked like, so that as we pray to Him, we have a visual representation of who we are praying to. When you pray, it is often helpful to pray in front of an icon of the Lord, so you have a visual representation of who you are talking to.
Icons are certainly not required to pray, and in order to make prayer something you can do often, at all times and in all places, there won’t always be an icon to pray in front of. So, one thing that I have done in my prayer life, is to “memorize” an icon of Christ. There are two actually that I have memorized—Christ on the cross as He appears in the back of the altar at the church where I serve; and Christ as He appears in one of the icons on the wall of my office. I can close my eyes and in a second, I can “see” either of those two icons. In moments of prayer, or stress, I can “see” the Lord in this icon and have almost instant comfort and peace when I “see” these icons.
There is an icon of Christ as the Good Shepherd, carrying His sheep on His shoulder. There is an icon of Christ carrying a human being on His shoulder as well. These images are peaceful, they remind us that it is the Lord who carries us through our toughest times. So, meditate on an image of Christ, anyone that you wish to meditate on. If you don’t own icons (some people receiving this message are not Orthodox), look up images of Christ on the computer until you find one you like and then “memorize” that image, so that you can close your eyes and stand in His presence on a moment’s notice.
Continue the challenge of yesterday—sit in silence for five minutes, either in front of an icon of Christ, or with your eyes closed with an image of Christ in your mind. So that you are not sitting in silence, but you are sitting with Your Lord.
Challenge for today: Sit in silence for at least five minutes, either gazing at an image of Christ, or with an image of Christ in your mind that you have “memorized.”
Lord, help me to know that You are real. Help me to feel Your presence. Give to me the comfort and peace that can only come from You. Please help to carry me through the day. Please carry all the people around me today, all of my family, my friends, my co-workers. Help us to see You always as our Shepherd. Amen.
Sit with the Lord today!
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